Review: Sony DWZ Series Digital Wireless System
"The Sony DWZ Series digital wireless systems are well built, and it is evident that considerable thought went into their design and feature set."
Sony’s recently launched series of modestly priced digital wireless systems are attractively designed, well built, and have all the necessary features for the typical user—plus some unique ones. Aspects from Sony’s professional wireless lines, such as detachable antennas and interchangeable microphone heads, have been integrated. And the lemon yellow circles surrounding the receiver controls add a splash of color that is rare in the typical gray and black world of pro audio equipment.Operating in the 2.4 GHz band, the DWZ Series offers a handheld and bodypack transmitter, a half-rack receiver, and a specialized receiver optimized for guitar and bass. Setup is simple, selecting channel one through six via the rotary encoder on the half-rack receiver, or turning the six-position switch on the guitar receiver. Quickly set the transmitter to the same frequency and begin playing, singing, or talking.WIRELESS RECEIVERThe half-rack receiver features a generous high-resolution color LCD screen, providing current system channel and status, as well as access to the menu. The channel number display is large and bright enough to recognize across the stage, and the remaining battery life displayed across the top can also be seen from several feet away. No more searching for your glasses or a flashlight to monitor what’s going on. RF level for both antennas is shown, with the current active antenna highlighted—along with a multi-segment audio meter displaying green bars for working audio level, plus a yellow, red, and peak display.Front-panel controls are simple, consisting of a power button, a generous push-to-enter rotary encoder, and an escape button to back out of the menu. The rear panel has a pair of BNC connectors for the articulating antennas, which will either project straight out the back or fold to 90-degrees for the typical “rabbit ear” antenna position. The balanced XLR connector is supplemented with a mic/line switch.Different from other receivers, two unbalanced quarter-inch connectors are present. One is for the standard unbalanced audio out, and the other is for auxiliary or tuner use, and can be programmed to either mute or remain unmuted when the transmitter’s mute is engaged. Completing the rear panel are a 12V connection for the external power supply and a miniature USB connector for firmware upgrades.Using the menu function, the channels can be set either manually or via an RF scan for clear channels. I discovered that when an active transmitter is close to the receiver while scanning, it will overwhelm that function and a clear channel will not be found; moving the transmitter a few feet away allows the scan to function properly.The menu also includes Audio Setup. To adjust the response of the audio from the microphone, a five-band equalizer is provided, with frequency centers at 60 Hz, 250 Hz, 1 kHz, 4 kHz, and 12 kHz—with level control of +/-12 dB for each band. The rotary encoder is used to make these EQ adjustments. If you need to monitor the audio from the mic at all times or send an instrument signal to a tuner, the status of the Aux/Tuner output can be set to continue sending a signal when the transmitter is muted.Rounding out the menu, Advanced Settings allows the user to choose either wideband or narrowband RF spacing. The type of battery used in the transmitter can also be specified, so that the remaining battery life displayed will be accurate.The specialized guitar receiver can be powered with the included 12V power supply, or with a 9V power supply or battery. It could easily fit on a pedalboard, and features a tuner output that remains on when the guitar is muted. A multi-position cable emulation dial mimics the HF roll-off when using typical performance-length guitar cables.